The golden era of Indian badminton: 2008-2018
Badminton in India has produced many great players in different eras, like Prakash Padukone, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Pullela Gopichand, Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Jwala Gutta, Aparna Popat, Syed Modi and Vimal Kumar.
Among these greats, Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand won the prestigious All England Badminton Championships, and were among the top shuttlers of their time but on the contrary, India was not. The main reason for that was the lack of infrastructure and exposure. Although the country had many talented players, they failed to perform to the best of their potential, because of the lack of proper preparation and training.
However, in the last decade, things have changed drastically. The last decade can definitely be called 'The Golden Period' of Indian badminton. It started from the year 2008-2009, when Saina Nehwal reached the Quarter Finals of the Beijing Olympics. This made the game immensely popular in the country. From there on, there was no looking back.
With better facilities and exposure, Indian badminton players started winning consistently in big tournaments. With the emergence of players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, K Srikanth, HS Pranoy, Parupalli Kashyap, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa, Indian badminton scaled new heights.
In this article, we look at the achievements of Indian badminton players, that makes the last decade (2008-2018), the 'Golden Era of Indian Badminton'.
#1 Winning Olympic and World Championship medals
In this period, India won their first ever Olympic medal in Badminton, when Saina Nehwal won a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. PV Sindhu bettered Saina Nehwal's feat, when she won a silver in the next Olympics at Rio, in 2016. In the World Championships also, these two golden girls of Indian badminton won multiple medals. India also won a World Championship medal in Women's doubles, thanks to Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa. Thus the Indian shuttlers became consistent, in winning medals, in most of the prestigious badminton tournaments. This was almost unimaginable, before this golden era.
#2 Having top ranked shuttlers and a strong supply line
In this period, the star shuttlers of India viz. Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Srikanth were consistently ranked among the top 5 shuttlers of the world. In fact, Saina Nehwal and Srikanth were also able to reach the number 1 rankings, in their respective disciplines. Other players like Parupalli Kashyap, HS Pranoy and doubles specialist Jwala Gutta also broke into the top 10 rankings, during this time.
India not only had shuttlers in the top 10, but also had a great supply line of young and talented players coming up all the time, especially in the singles disciplines. Players like Sameer Verma, Sai Praneeth, Sourabh Verma and Ajay Jayaram, were always there, knocking at the door, for a top ten rankings.
Although they lacked the consistency of a top 10 shuttler, but they registered many memorable victories against the best shuttlers in the world and won important tournaments like Super Series and Grand Prix Golds. This bunch of top 30 players, complimented the champions like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and K Srikanth in team events like Thomas and Uber Cups. Thus this Golden era of Indian badminton not only had great champions but an equally strong supply line and bench strength.
This helped India in making the transition, from being a minnow, to a formidable badminton nation in the world.